Bendigo Art Gallery's Genius and Ambition exhibition brought in 44,000 visitors over the 100 days it has run since March.
The exhibition of rare works from the Royal Academy of Art in England closed on Monday.
Gallery director Karen Quinlan said Sunday was their busiest day, with 1500 visitors walking through their doors.
"I can't believe that it has been so successful," Ms Quinlan said.
She said it was difficult as a gallery director to know if the public was going to enjoy the artworks as much as she did.
Ms Quinlan said she had been cultivating a relationship with the Royal Academy since 2009.
She said her decision to pursue the collection for the Bendigo Art Gallery stemmed from a personal interest in artists leaving Australia for training.
She said this was the first time the Royal Academy had toured a collection showcasing its history.
Bendigo is the only Australian location to exhibit the collection.
"These are very rare pictures and you won't see them again in Australia," Ms Quinlan said.
Ms Quinlan said Bendigo Art Gallery had developed a "very strong CV" of exhibitions over time, making it possible to continue to show high-profile international collections.
"Our reputation is far and wide and we punch well above our weight in terms of attracting exhibitions to this city," she said.
Ms Quinlan said most visitors to the Genius and Ambition exhibition had travelled to Bendigo specifically to see it.
But she said Bendigo was a destination that had so much to offer in terms of historic buildings, good food and accommodation.
"It just gets better and better all the time," she said.
The last visitors to leave the gallery at closing on Monday were architect couple John McNabb and Jeniffer Gomes.
They had come from Melbourne specifically to see the show.
"I thought there was some exceptional artwork and some of great English masters of reknown," Mr McNabb said.
"What the director is doing for the city of Bendigo is phenomenal," he said.
"I'm always amazed at what is put on here," Ms Gomes said.
The Gallery Cafe owner, Renzo Panozzo, saw the exhibition for the first time on Monday afternoon because he had been so busy with customers.
"I haven't had a day off in weeks," Mr Panozzo said.
Gallery collections manager Sandra Bruce said it would take two weeks to take all the paintings down, after which time they would move to their next destination, Japan.
We punch well above our weight in terms of attracting exhibitions to this cityKaren Quinlan